Camilo Vergara is one of hundreds of young Colombians

Camilo Andrey Vergara was born in 1989 in a rural area of Antioquia, in western Colombia. Raised among coffee and cocoa plantations, his early life with his parents and siblings was peaceful. But the armed conflict ripped his family apart, when he was still a small child.

“When I was small, armed groups extorted and threatened peasants, and recruited children”, says Mr. Vergara, remembering the dark days of the 1990s, when drug trafficking and violence were rife, particularly in the rural areas of the country.

“One night, when I was nine years old, an armed group broke into our house at two o’clock in the morning. They told my father that one of his children had to leave with them or they would kill us all.”

“They tried to take my 26-year-old brother, Jon Jairo. My father refused, so they shot my brother dead, in front of us. They then tried to take my other brother Carlos Mario, who was 19. He also refused, and they killed him too”.

With shots ringing out in his home, and those of his neighbours, Camilo and his remaining family members fled into the dark night